Young, Duggan make last-minute push for votes

James David Dickson
The Detroit News

Detroit -- On Sunday, two days before Detroiters go to the polls, the incumbent Mayor  Mike Duggan and his challenger state Sen. Coleman Young II, chose friendly audiences to make closing arguments for why they should be mayor. 

On Sunday, two days before Detroiters choose the city's mayor  at the polls, the incumbent Mike Duggan and his challenger state Sen. Coleman Young II, both  chose friendly audiences to make closing arguments for why they should be mayor.


Young was scheduled to speak at the morning service at his home church, St. Paul Church of God in Christ on Sheridan, north of East Lafayette and east of East Grand Boulevard, on the city's east side.

For Young, arriving at his church home comes at the end of a campaign in which an aide says he shook thousands of hands and visited hundreds of churches and  "every juke joint in town," including a Saturday night of campaigning that didn't end until Sunday morning. Young was late arriving at his church home, but after arriving was seated at the front row. 

The topic of the tail-end of the message? Fear. Young had addressed that himself before joining the service.

Asked what lessons he takes from his father's electoral success in the 1973 mayoral race, the first of four won by the late Coleman Alexander Young, he said: "The only anecdote to fear is courage, and be true to yourself."

Inside the sanctuary, a pastor spoke on the importance of replacing fear with faith.

"A bigger gun in your house doesn't eliminate fear," he said. "A bigger dog in your house doesn't eliminate fear. You cannot get there on your own."

The Rev. Robert Harris used Young's lineage as proof of his fitness for the job.

"This man followed in his father's footsteps," Harris said. Then of the former mayor, he said: "They couldn't buy him. They couldn't shut him up. His son was raised to reflect the possibility that black men could raise higher than we've ever been."

The younger Young "knows and honors the struggles of the city of Detroit," Harris said. "Look around — he looks like you."

Harris warned of what would happen if Detroiters chose a second term for Duggan.

"Right before your eyes," Harris said, "they're taking everything from the citizens of Michigan. Now, they want Detroit back."

Seven miles away, on Woodward  at Historic Little Rock Baptist Church, Duggan made what he described as his final stop of the 2017 campaign.

The church had been chosen, Duggan said, because when he first announced that he was running for mayor, Little Rock's the Rev. Jim Holley was the first one who embraced and believed in him. 

Holley called the election "a defining moment in the history of this city," and urged the 100-plus guests at the after-service luncheon that "there's no looking back, only looking forward."

After running through some of the highlights of his administration, including the conversion of an abandoned building on nearby Owen Street to 26 housing units opening in 2018, Duggan took questions from the crowd. 

One woman, who identified herself as a resident of the University District off Livernois and McNichols, asked Duggan the neighborhoods versus. downtown question that's become a theme of the election.

"You feel left behind in the University District?" Duggan asked.

"It's not just about me," the woman said. 

Duggan then touted the coming renovation of 23 commercial corridors in Detroit, such as East Warren. The renovations will be funded by bond, after Detroit City Council gave its approval  last month. 

"We want to build shopping clusters in our neighborhoods," Duggan said. "There are a whole lot of Detroiters shopping in the suburbs." 

In response to a question about the imbalance in auto insurance rates paid by Detroiters compared to others in Michigan, Duggan indicated there would be payback coming for the members of the Detroit delegation to the state Legislature that opposed a bill he supported that would've lowered rates but also coverage for crash victims on that plan. 

"Half of the Detroit delegation didn't vote with us," Duggan said. "I intend to campaign against every one of them this August."